News & Updates

New leadership announcements

March 7, 2017

American Airlines today shared the long-planned retirements of two admired team members:

  • Tim Ahern, Vice President – Customer Experience, informed the Company of his plans to retire in April
  • Terri Pope, Vice President – Charlotte Hub Operations, informed the Company of her plans to retire in June

Concurrent with this announcement, several additional appointments were made to backfill open positions:

  • Dec Lee will succeed Pope as Vice President – Charlotte Hub Operations
  • John Beavers has been promoted to Vice President – Engineering, Quality & Training, to assume Lee's previous role
  • JonCarlo Gulbranson has been promoted to Vice President – Reservations, a position previously open
  • Rick Elieson has been promoted to President – American Airlines Cargo, a position that was previously open

"It is always difficult to see respected team members depart, but Terri and Tim have worked hard for the people of American and deserve our deepest appreciation as they begin their retirement chapters," said American's President Robert Isom. "Thanks to thoughtful succession planning, we have talented leaders at the ready to step into these important positions and continue to build on the foundation that is in place. The future is exciting with these leaders at the helm, and we look forward to their contributions."

Airport Operations

Tim Ahern, Vice President – Customer Experience, informed the company of his plans to retire at the end of April. 

"Tim has been a key leader at American Airlines for almost 40 years, and has helped our team succeed through incredible changes and challenges," said Isom. "He is known as a mentor to many, and his big heart, laughter and care for colleagues will truly be missed."

Ahern began his career in 1978 as a Reservations Sales Agent in American's Los Angeles Reservations Office, eventually leading teams in Reservations, Flight, Service, Safety and Airport Services. He also served as Vice President – New York and International, where he oversaw American's New York, Europe and Pacific operations, and American's strategic initiatives in the New York area. He has always been known as an ambassador for American in the communities in which he's lived and served.

Terri Pope, Vice President – Charlotte Hub Operations (CLT), also informed the company of her intent to retire in early June. 

"Terri has built our CLT hub into one of our largest and top-performing operations," said Isom. "You would never know it is one of the nation's busiest airports by the personal care Terri gives to everyone at CLT.  She excels at creating a supportive atmosphere for her team to deliver outstanding performance, and her leadership style is one I will always seek to emulate."

Pope has more than four decades of experience in airlines, beginning her career in 1976. She served in a variety of roles at US Airways including Premium Services in Pittsburgh and Boston, and airport operations at Boston Logan International Airport, New York's La Guardia Airport, West Palm Beach Airport and Washington's Reagan National Airport. In 2009 the Charlotte Business Journal recognized Pope as one of the top 25 businesswomen in the Charlotte community.

With Pope's retirement, Dec Lee will assume the role of Vice President – Charlotte Hub Operations. He will lead all aspects of American's operations at Charlotte Douglas International Airport – American's second largest hub and the nation's fifth busiest airport.

"Dec not only brings a wealth of experience in leading high-performing airline operations to his new role, he is also an exceptionally thoughtful leader," said Kerry Philipovitch, American's Senior Vice President – Customer Experience. "Terri and I are both confident that he will continue her legacy of service to the CLT team."

An airline veteran, Lee began his career as an A&P mechanic in the UK's Royal Air Force and later held leadership positions at Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines.  Most recently he has served as Vice President – Engineering, Quality & Training for American's Integrated Operations team.

Integrated Operations

John Beavers has been promoted to Vice President – Engineering, Quality & Training to assume Lee's previous role. In his new role, Beavers will oversee engineering, quality control (inspection), quality assurance, technical training, reliability and fleet management areas of aircraft maintenance.

"John's varied background in Technical Operations makes him well-suited to take on this increased level of responsibility," said David Seymour, American's Senior Vice President – Integrated Operations.  "As we embark on a massive integration project to merge our Technical Operations systems and some very significant retrofit programs, his leadership and reputation for collaboration couldn’t be a better fit to care for our team."

Beavers started his career at Trans World Airlines as a senior engineer. He later worked in Equipment and Tooling Engineering, Component and Facilities Maintenance, Powerplant & Fleet Ops Engineering and 737 Systems and Structures Engineering. Most recently, he served as American's Managing Director – Powerplant, APU & Component Engineering. A graduate of Wayne State University, Beavers holds an MBA from Webster University.


JonCarlo Gulbranson has been promoted to Vice President – Global Reservations.  He will oversee American's reservations operations, including its 21 locations across the globe. This role was previously held by Tim Lindemann, who now oversees the airline's Customer Planning organization.

"JonCarlo's broad experience across the company as well as his mix of leadership, analytical, and technological strengths make him a unique fit for this important role," said Philipovitch. "Our Reservations team members and customers will benefit from his unwavering passion for service excellence and innovation."

Gulbranson joined US Airways in 2008 after several years at Northwest Airlines. He has since led teams in Customer Service, Planning, Service Recovery, Crew Resources and the Integration Management Office. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.


Rick Elieson has been promoted to President – Cargo overseeing all aspects of American's worldwide cargo business. He will report to Jim Butler, who recently succeeded Art Torno as Senior Vice President – International and Cargo, following Torno's retirement. 

"We often look at Cargo as an airline within an airline," said Butler. "Leading this fantastic team requires a wide range of experience, which Rick brings to the position. His history in leading large-scale strategic partnerships, pricing and revenue management and complex technology implementations, combined with his goal of building collaborative and empowered teams, is the perfect recipe for supporting the future success of our Cargo division."

Elieson began his career on the Japanese desk in American's Fort Worth Reservations office in 1994. He has since held numerous positions in Revenue Management, Pricing Strategy, Loyalty, Digital, Marketing and as the head of American Airlines Vacations. Most recently he served as Vice President – Global Partner Marketing.

Added Butler: "I’m also very pleased to announce that Roger Samways, who joined the Cargo team in 1998, is being promoted from managing director – Global Sales and Key Accounts to vice president – Global Sales. Roger is one of our most trusted and valuable leaders in the cargo organization."

About American Airlines Cargo

American Airlines Group is the holding company for American Airlines. American provides one of the largest cargo networks in the world with cargo terminals and interline connections across the globe. Every day, American transports cargo between major cities in the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia Pacific.

American Airlines and American Eagle offer an average of nearly 6,700 flights per day to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries. American has hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. American is a founding member of the oneworld alliance, whose members and members-elect serve nearly 1,000 destinations with 14,250 daily flights to 150 countries. Shares of American Airlines Group Inc. trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol AAL. In 2015, its stock joined the S&P 500 index. Connect with American on Twitter @AmericanAir and at


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